23 The Source of Power
"Come and try to put the two pieces together," said Roland.
Anna stretched out her fingers and pressed on the seams of the iron plate. The flame sprayed from her fingers, and the interface melted at a visible speed.
"Reduce the firepower, and start from the back again."
She nodded and did as she was told. The two iron plates were joined at 90 degrees and firmly welded together.
Roland scrutinized the interface and the effect was as he imagined—a perfect weld without any flaws. If the traces of grinding could be polished away when the iron was molten, the two iron plates would look no different from a single body.
"Very good, Miss Anna, that was fantastic." Roland could not help but praise. "Next, we'll also attach the other two pieces of iron."
"What's this? An iron... bucket?"
"No, it's a cylinder." He corrected.
"Cylinder?" Anna repeated confusedly.
"Yes, it can be used to fill the air." Roland pointed to another square iron plate. "See the hole above? Air flows from this hole into the cylinder, activating the piston. Hum, the piston is an iron plate smaller than a cylinder's diameter, and it can move freely in the cylinder."
Even Anna, began to feel dizzy in the face of so many foreign words. "Then these... cylinder and piston, what do they do?"
"They are used to create a machine that can move automatically."
The steam engine, the driving force of mankind's first industrial revolution, completely liberated human and animal power.
Its schematic diagram was familiar to every mechanical engineer. In short, it was a magnified version of the kettle. The boiled steam was introduced into the cylinder, pushing the piston and connecting rods, converting heat into mechanical energy.
The principle was very simple, but that did not mean it was easy to manufacture. Its difficulty lay in the airtightness between the cylinder and the piston, as well as the manufacture of the gas pipe. If the metal processing was not advanced enough, relying on manual forging to create a qualified cylinder would be simply impossible.
However, Anna's ability made up for the deficiency in technology.
Roland just needed to design four same-sized pieces of iron plate in advance, let the blacksmith polish the cast, and then use the right-angled plate to fix the shape. Followed by Anna's welding, Roland could get a very stiff square cylinder. With the help of the witch, he did not need to follow the traditional production process, which firstly to make a gun barrel machine, and then to process a circular cylinder. It was the same with the other large parts. You could make small pieces and then join them. In this way, even the blacksmith shops could work together to create a steam engine with all the necessary components.
In fact, before welding was invented, people could only rely on bolts or rivets to connect small pieces. The internal of the cylinder had to be smooth, and the conventional connection obviously could not do this.
The only trouble was the gas pipe. Its production method was not really anything special. A long iron plate was welded untill it became red hot, and was placed into the groove-type mold, and then was knocked into shape with a hammer. This was also the method of producing flintlock barrels. But the barrel also needed to be straightened afterwards, including drilling and rifling, hence it was a little more complex.
The trouble was that Roland could not call the blacksmith to his castle backyard, as the witch could not be exposed yet. Besides, he was not good at forging iron. In desperation, he had to let Chief Knight do it instead.
So after three tedious days, Roland finally created the first steam engine in the backyard.
"So this is your great invention?" Carter frowned at the strange machine. He also ascertained it had nothing to do with the cult. The machine seemed more like a sealed stove, each of whose iron lumps was manually installed by him. It would be strange if the demon had any interest in it.
But how could a pile of iron lumps move? It looked very clumsy, and had no feet. How could it fly?
But in Roland's eyes, this seemingly simple machine exuded the beauty of industrial charm. With the scientific knowledge he acquired in the previous life, he naturally would not make the Newcomen steam engine, the Watt steam engine, or the steam engine. His first trial product was a high-pressure steam engine with double connecting rods and sliding valves. Its manufacturing process was not more difficult than that of the most primitive steam engine, but the key lay in some innovative ideas.
"You'll find out soon!"
Roland poured a bucket of water into the steam compartment, and let Anna light some firewood.
Ten minutes later, the water boiled, and kept boiling furiously. Soon, a crackling sound came from the cylinder, and Roland knew that was the sound of thermal expansion in the cylinder. The piston's iron plate was thin, the expansion was larger than the cylinder block, and would ultimately be edged firmly in the cylinder wall.
"Isn't this boiling water? Didn't expect it to be a stove," Carter muttered.
When the cylinder was full of steam, what happened next made Roland very excited. The piston began to push the connecting rod outwards. When the rod moved to the vertex, the other connecting rod pulled the sliding valve, causing the steam in turn to push the piston inward. The two connecting rods worked alternately to make the wheel rotate, and with the increased firepower, it quickly reached its peak.
The machine let out a harsh roar, and the exhaust spat out white gas, with a kind of unstoppable momentum.
"This is what you mean by... the hidden power of nature?" Anna asked blankly.
The chief knight looked incredulous. He installed the big iron wheel with a huge effort. Yet now it was like a feather spinning, and he could even feel the air blowing caused by the spinning wheels—this could only mean this machine of iron lumps had a surprising strength.
His heart gradually became a little uneasy.
His Highness said that it could replace manpower and animal power. If this was not a lie, when it replaced the horse and the chariots, even ten knights would not be able to resist this brute force.
It took fifteen years to train a qualified knight, but to make such an iron furnace, it only took three days. If the time of building certain parts by blacksmith was counted, it would only take a week in total.
It did not need food, was not afraid of cold and hunger, and also not afraid of arrows, swords and guns. As long as the embolon was mounted, it would be able to rampage on the battlefield.
In this way... what's the point for traditional knights to exist?
At night, when Roland returned to his bedroom, he saw Nightingale again.
She did not wear a hood this time, sitting at the table with a smile, holding a few pieces of parchment in her hands. "It seems the rumors are really untrue. It's said that Prince Roland is ignorant and unskilled, of vile character, but you're actually much better compared to the court master. Is it the design of the iron furnace on this piece of paper? You call it... steam engine, right?"
"Oh damn, can't I get any privacy? You come and go as you wish, do you think this is your home!" Suppressing his displeasure, he said blankly, "It's a design, but without Anna's help, it's just a sheet of paper."
"What is it for?"
"A lot. Transportation, drainage, smelting, forging. It's useful wherever massive power is needed."
"In that case, I'll keep it." Nightingale rolled the parchment and put it in her robes. "There's also someone in the Witch Cooperation Association who can control the flames."
She waved her hand to stop Roland's protest. "Of course, I'm not going to blatantly take your things. Take a look at this first." She placed a small lump of white thing on the table.
Roland went over, picked it up with his fingers and found that it was a roll of paper.
He gently spread it and had a quick look. "This is..."
"The letter sent by the pigeon," said Nightingale in a joking tone. "The recipient is your head maid Tyre, and it seems that your harem is not safe."
"I have never laid a hand on her," Roland said, frowning.
Tyre, seemed to have followed him for a long time in his memory. Originally, the prince was quite interested in her, but he failed in several harassments. After they came to Border Town, he directly promoted her to head maid, so that she could attend upon him. Her room was also arranged just next to his. He did not realize she was a spy sent by his siblings.
Although the letter was not signed, judging by the content, it was very likely the handwriting of his siblings. The letter said the lord was very unhappy about the failure in the last attempt. She was ordered to strike during the riot at Longsong Stronghold next time and not allowed to fail again. "Well, actually she had succeeded," he thought, "or I would not have become Roland Wimbledon."
This letter was unlikely to be forged by Nightingale, because only those who participated in this conspiracy, would know about the first assassination. Plus Nightingale did not need to take so much trouble to kill himself.
"Did you steal this from her?"
"Your head maid was not so stupid. She was about to burn it, but luckily I happened to appear behind her back." Nightingale made a switching action. "So what're you going to do? Do you need my help to 'handle' this?"
Roland definitely knew what she meant by "handle". He hesitated for a moment, and then finally nodded. "In that case, thank you for your kind help." He has no confidence in doing something like this. "If you can, please help me to find out who her mastermind was."
"As you wish, Your Highness," said Nightingale with a smile. "The design will be the pay."